Nuts to you Baby!

July 2, 2009 at 8:49 am Leave a comment

Nuts and seeds are healthy,  but need to be treated cautiously
Nuts and seeds are healthy, but need to be treated cautiously

So when do you introduce nuts and seeds?  And how?  The best way may be to try my Pepita Pesto recipe …!

There is a lot of discussion these days about nut allergies, especially peanuts.  If your child has a nut allergy it can be a very scary experience since peanut oil is used in many processed foods.  Now with clear labelling it is getting easier for parents and children to identify foods that they can and cannot eat.

When it comes to your baby’s diet it is important to know when you can introduce nuts and seeds.  Nuts and seeds are highly nutritious and should be included in a child’s diet if there is no allergy.  High in omega 3 fats they are important brain food for babies, kids and adults, this good healthy fat helps a growing brain, builds a healthy immune system and builds and protects the nerve system.

The exact age of when to introduce nuts is anytime after a year, using your parental discretion and instinct.  Seeds can be introduced a little earlier, around 10 months; again, trust your instinct.  Here are some of the facts surrounding nuts, seeds and allergies.  I say use your instinct because allergies are dependent on various factors:

  • Family Allergies – if you, your partner or another child in the family has allergies the chances of your child getting an allergy increases
  • Breastfeeding – the longer you breastfeed the chances of your child developing an allergy decreases
  • Introducing Food – if you wait until 6 months to introduce food, the chances of your child developing an allergy decreases
  • Food Schedule – if you introduce food following a schedule and you introduce new food one item at a time, the chances of your child developing an allergy decreases

There has been no substantial evidence that eating peanuts in pregnancy will cause or prevent a peanut allergy. The same can be said about breastfeeding.

I believe that the fear around nuts needs to be mitigated.  While it is important for children with a nut allergy to feel safe; it is also important that children who do not have nut allergies to not miss out on these nutritional powerhouses.  Nuts are a great after school snack or a treat if your toddler is at home and will not be interacting with other children.

Here are some ways of adding nuts and seeds to your baby and toddler’s diets

  • Grind nuts and seeds in a coffee grinder and sprinkle them on hot cereal (like oatmeal)
  • Add ground seeds and nuts to a smoothie
  • Try a nut butter like almond or cashew, these are delicious on slices of apple or pear
  • Add almond milk to a smoothie.  You can easily make your own by following this recipe
  • Soak nuts in fresh water.  This makes the nuts easier to eat and also makes their nutrients better absorbed
  • Add nuts or seeds to your child’s cookie recipes (like this one!)
  • Try my recipe for Pepita Pesto – it is a hit in our house and a flavourful way to get some greens!

Here is a list of nuts and seeds from least allergenic to most.

Good –> Poppy Seed, Pumpkin seed, Sunflower seed, Carob, Macadamia Nut, Pistachio Nuts, Cashews, Flax Seeds, Coconut, Chocolate (cocoa bean), Sesame seed, Almond, Brazil Nut, Pecan, Walnut, Hazelnut (filbert), Peanut <– Bad

Pepita Pesto

This pesto will keep for a week in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer; if you don't eat it all!
This pesto will keep for a week in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer; if you don’t eat it all!

Pepita is Spanish for pumpkin seed.  The pumpkin seed is quite prevalent in Mexican cooking.

  • ½ C raw pumpkin seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ t salt
  • 2 C basil
  • 1 C spinach
  • 1/3 C olive oil

In a dry frying pan toast the pumpkin seeds over high heat until they begin to pop (5 min.) and turn a light brown.  Put the toasted pumpkin seeds in a food processor and add garlic and salt.  Pulse until coarsely ground.  Add the spinach and basil.  Process until everything is chopped fine.  Running your processor, pour the olive oil slowly into the processor (through the hole on the top of your food processor).  Continue until you get a smooth consistency, you may have to stop and scrape the sides of the processor occasionally. You can add water, by the tablespoon if the pesto is not smooth enough.   Once you have reached the consistency you like in a pesto, put the pesto in a jar.  It will keep for a week in the fridge.  It can also be frozen for up to 3 months.

Try this pesto on crackers, pasta, in yogurt as a dip.  It’s so good, you may just eat it off the spoon 😉  And why not it’s a great source of healthy fat and dark greens!


Entry filed under: 1 Year, 10 months, Allergies, Breastfeeding, Cookies, Dips, Finger Food, Herbs & Spices, Introducing Food, Nuts and Seeds, Toddlers, Vegetables. Tags: , , , , , , .

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